Mexico acceded to Convention of 15 November 1965 on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil or Commercial Matters, also called the Hague Service Convention, on November 2, 1999. The Convention’s provisions entered into force in Mexico on June 1, 2000.
American attorneys seeking service in Mexico would be wise to familiarize themselves with the mandatory character of the Convention as set forth in Volkswagenwerk A.G. v. Schlunk, 486 U.S. 694 (1988).
Canadian attorneys should consult provincial precedent — Canadian courts take a more nuanced view of the Convention, but effectively reach the same conclusion: its limitations must be observed. Regardless of forum court requirements, the service rules of the receiving country must be observed, or enforcement of a judgment may become impossible.
Despite the volume of litigation between parties throughout the NAFTA zone, serving process in Mexico requires an often lengthy wait, and the procedure has not been as streamlined as in other Hague countries.
Our experience indicates that, without knowledgeable assistance from local counsel, Hague-compliant service takes a year or more to effect. Fortunately, the Central Authority permits the involvement of Mexican attorneys to guide requests through the proper procedure and ensure that requests do not languish. While this increases the cost of effecting service in Mexico, it usually reduces the wait for proof of service.
The Mexican Central Authority also has very strict guidelines regarding deadlines issued to defendants. It is critical to be absolutely transparent with regards to how many days a defendant has to respond.
When serving US or Canadian process in Mexico, not only must documents be accompanied by a Spanish translation, but that translation may have to be performed by a Mexican court-certified “perito” translator. While the Mexican Central Authority assures the Hague Conference on Private International Law that this requirement is not in effect for Hague requests, the procedure by which service is effected requires the involvement of a judge at the state level. State judges may reject “non-perito” translations merely as a matter of common practice. As such, use of a non-perito translation has inherent risks.
While a rejection would be inappropriate and could be cured by a follow-up submission, the value of time lost in the follow-up (often up to a year) may far outweigh the increased cost.
In all cases, regardless, documents must reasonably be understood by the defendant in order to fulfill US Due Process requirements. For documents served upon a recipient who speaks neither English nor Spanish, translation into a third language may be necessary. US practitioners should explore this issue with our legal staff.
The nationwide Central Authority for Mexico is:
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Directorate-General of Legal Affairs
Plaza Juárez No. 20, Planta Baja
Mexico, Distrito Federal
Mexico has stated its formal opposition to all alternate channels under Article 10. As such, the only appropriate option for service in Mexico is to send a request to the Central Authority.
Our staff attorneys can assist you with service and can help you understand and meet the requirements for service of process in Mexico and dozens of other countries around the world. Please call 1-800-755-5775 for more information.
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